Frank Almond, violin
Violinist Frank Almond held the Charles and Marie Caestecker Concertmaster Chair at the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra for 25 years until 2020. He also held the ConcertMaster position with the Rotterdam Philharmonic with Valery Gergiev and Guest Concertmaster of the London Symphony Orchestra with Kurt Masur.
Frank regularly performs as a soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and as soloist and chamber musician throughout the U-S and Europe. He is the founder of his own chamber music series in Milwaukee, Frankly Music, consistently recognized for innovative programming and its ability to attract leading performers from around the world.
At 17, Frank Almond was one of the youngest prizewinners in the history of the Nicolo Paganini Competition in Genoa, Italy, and five years later was one of two American prizewinners at the Eighth International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, which was documented in an award-winning PBS film.
His extensive recording discography includes a wide range of repertoire on various labels that have garnered multiple Grammy nominations.
His most recent series of recordings, A Violin’s Life, chronicles the extraordinary history and lineage of his current violin, the 1715 Lipiński Stradivarius. This instrument has direct ties to Giuseppe Tartini, Edvard Grieg, Johannes Brahms, and Robert and Clara Schumann.
On January 27, 2014, the “ex-Lipiński” Stradivarius was stolen from Mr. Almond in an armed robbery after a concert. The violin was recovered nine days later, and the story continues to make headlines around the world. The robbery and recovery are the subject of a documentary film, “Plucked,” premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival in April (2019). Frank will has also been featured on a hit edition of” The Moth Radio Hour” from Alice Tully Hall, the critically acclaimed story-telling program heard on Public Radio stations nationwide.
Frank holds two degrees from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Dorothy Delay, Michael Tseitlin, Felix Galimir, and Joseph Silverstein. He currently serves on the Faculty at Roosevelt University in Chicago and is the Johnston Artist-in-Residence at the Milwaukee Youth Symphony, one of the largest youth arts programs in the United States. Previous teaching positions include positions at Northwestern University and Texas Christian University.
Frank Almond writes an online column, as he admits, “instead of practicing.” Non divisi offers his thoughts, hopes and expectations for the present and future of classical music.
More information about Frankly Music, A Violin’s Life and the Lipiński Stradivarius is available at frankalmond.com.
Richard Hirschl, cello
Richard Hirschl joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s cello section in 1989. A native of Washington, Missouri, he began cello lessons with his father, an amateur cellist. His intermediate studies were with Savely Schuster, associate principal cellist of the St. Louis Symphony. He was accepted into the class of Leonard Rose and Channing Robbins at the Juilliard School, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1987 and a master’s degree in 1988.
Hirschl was an associate teacher at Juilliard before moving to Chicago. He was the winner of the 1988 Juilliard Concerto Competition, 1988 Irving M. Klein International String Competition and 1980 St. Louis Symphony Scholarship Competition.
In addition to his New York debut with the Juilliard Orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall, Hirschl has given concerto performances with the Peoria Symphony, the Northwestern Indiana Symphony, the New Philharmonic, Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra, Jupiter Symphony, St. Louis Philharmonic, Maracaibo Symphony (Venezuela), National Repertory Orchestra, St. Louis Chamber Orchestra and Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York.
He has appeared in chamber music performances with celebrated pianists Daniel Barenboim, András Schiff and Ursula Oppens, cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Lynn Harrell and violinist Vadim Repin. He is on the faculty of the Chicago Conservatory for the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and has a large class of private students. He plays a Venetian cello made by Matteo Goffriller in 1710 and a cello made in Chicago by William Whedbee in 2014. He and his wife Laura make their home in a downtown high-rise where they are the proud parents of Ava Clare and Vivian Rose Hirschl.
Kim Laskowski, bassoon
Kim Laskowski joined the New York Philharmonic in September 2003 as Associate Principal Bassoon. Born in Brooklyn, she attended the High School of Music and Art and The Juilliard School, where she studied with Harold Goltzer, former Associate Principal Bassoon of the New York Philharmonic. While at Juilliard she won the Walter and Elsie Naumburg Award for Orchestral Excellence. She completed a master’s degree at Juilliard while playing in the National Orchestral Association, and has also participated in the Tanglewood and Spoleto festivals. A recipient of a Fulbright grant for foreign study, she attended the Conservatoire National Superieure de Paris, where she was a student of Maurice Allard. While at the Conservatoire, she toured Europe as a member of the Orchestre des Prix. As an active player on the New York musical scene, Ms. Laskowski has appeared with ensembles such as the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, American Symphony Orchestra, and Eos Orchestra. She can be heard on numerous television, radio, and film scores, and holds two platinum records for CDs recorded with the rock group 10, 000 Maniacs. As a chamber player, she has performed and recorded several CDs with Music Amici in classical, jazz, and 20th century works for mixed ensembles.Before joining the joining the Philharmonic, Ms. Laskowski played second bassoon in the New York City Ballet Orchestra. She was also principal bassoon of the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra from 1999 – 2003.
Kim Laskowski performs regularly as a chamber musician and soloist around the world. She has participated in the Aspen Music Festival, the Bowdoin Festival, and the Benefaio Festival . She has been invited to give master classes in Frankfurt, Monte Video Uruguay, University of Southern California, and in Taiwan. She is on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard School.
Lisa Nakamichi, piano
Lisa Nakamichi, known for her exquisite performances of Mozart has been called “born to play Mozart” by Honolulu Advertiser critic on her concerto performance with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra.
The successful Tokyo solo debut recital sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Culture launched Ms. Nakamichi’s career in Japan. Ms. Nakamichi has since appeared in concerto performances throughout Japan among them the New Star Japan Philharmonic in Tokyo, the Kyushu Philharmonic in Nagasaki, Kyoto Symphony in Kyoto and the Hiroshima Symphony in Hiroshima. Her performance with the Hiroshima Symphony was reviewed as “brilliant Mozart playing”.
Most recently, in February 2019, Nakamichi appeared with world-acclaimed pianist, Jon Nakamatsu in Mozart’s double concerto with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maestro Hans Graf. Concerto performances with the Honolulu Symphony and Hawaii Symphony have totaled over a dozen times and her performance of the Mozart Concerto was reviewed in the Honolulu Advertiser as “above all beautiful”. Notable performances with the HSO includes the inaugural concert of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Naoto Ohtomo in March 2012. Nakamichi has also collaborated with the Hawaii Youth Symphony in a performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, celebrating Louis Vuitton’s 150th anniversary concert.
Ms. Nakamichi has appeared in numerous recitals in major cities of the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan. Notable venues include the residence of the Japanese Ambassador to the United States in Washington, D.C., Consul General of Japan in Honolulu, Corcoran Art Theater (Washington, D.C.), Tokyo Bunka Kaikan (Tokyo, Japan), Eroica Saal (Vienna, Austria), residence of the Japanese Ambassador to Austria in Vienna, Libby Hall (University of Utah), University of Alaska in Anchorage, Montreal City Hall (Montreal, Canada), Portland Japanese Garden (Portland, Oregon), among others.
Since 2000, Ms. Nakamichi has been on the artists’ roster of the Japan Foundation for Regional Art Activities (JAFRA). She has appeared throughout Japan in the Foundation’s outreach program holding workshops, masterclasses and performances to promote the regional development in arts and culture.
As juror, Nakamichi has served on the jury of the Cooper International Piano Competition (Cleveland), Waring International Piano Competition (Palm Springs), and Alaska MTA, where she also conducted masterclasses. In August 2018, she served on the jury of the PTNA Competition (Piano Teachers’ National Association) for their national finals in Tokyo.
Ms. Nakamichi is the founding artistic director of the Aloha International Piano Festival which is held annually in June at the Hawaii Convention Center. Focusing on the highest level of piano education by world acclaimed pianists, the festival hosts local students and students from the mainland U.S. and Asia.
Lisa Nakamichi received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Martin Canin and doctoral degree awarded from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.